Thursday, January 07, 2016

Monsanto Hall of Chemistry Brochure

The Monsanto company has had a pretty bad image for the last few decades. Google it! But when I was a kid, the name was tied to "Adventure Thru Inner Space" at Disneyland... still one of my all-time favorite attractions. Later on I learned that Monsanto also sponsored the plastic House of the Future and the Hall of Chemistry; so it is safe to say that they were an important part of Disneyland history.

There are a number of Monsanto-related Disneyland souvenirs out there, including today's long fold-out brochure. This one is copyrighted "1958 - 1959", though the code on this particular example seems to indicated that it is from July 1959. I love the artwork, so reminiscent of textbooks and magazine illustrations of the era. 

Here is the front of the brochure; we see guests silhouetted against the the "eight huge test tubes topped by colorful statues. Each stands for one of the eight natural materials from with all chemicals are made". Normally I am not a fan of multicolored lettering, but I love it here.

Flipping the brochure over, I'll let you read it (if you wish) for yourself!

More great illustrations... did any of you grow up looking at the Time-Life Science Library books? I loved those so much! Imagine my disappointment when my mom told me that she had taken our set to the local thrift shop. I have been tempted to try to acquire another set!

We all know that real labs are a tangle of various glass beakers, vials, graduated cylinders, crucibles, flasks, condensers, test tubes, and more!  Preferably they are filled with colored water and dry ice. 

I like this page with the aerial view of the Hall of Chemistry's location in Tomorrowland, along with the House of the Future. 

And finally, here's the last panel. This particular brochure is a little harder to find than a larger version, but it can still be had for a reasonable price.

I hope you have enjoyed this vintage Hall of Chemistry brochure!


Nanook said...


This was the era when science could solve all of Mans ills. Of particular note is this 'feature': Atomic submarines, jets, rockets and missiles usher in a fantastic era of travel made possible through chemistry. I'm very interested in knowing more about "missile travel".

Yes, who could forget: "without chemicals, life itself would be impossible." Personally, I prefer it the other way 'round-!

Thanks, Major.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wow all this science needs some music to make it easier to komprehend. Oh wait the Sherman Bros wrote this little ditty.

Nice brochure Major, your collection of Disney "stuff" is vast and varied. Thanks for sharing.

Chuck said...

Major, this is a real gem.

I think my favorite detail is the aerial rendering of the HOC and HOF. The color and level of detail differences really make the two stand out, yet still fit beautifully with the color scheme of the rest of the brochure. I also love the standard architectural rendering technique of filling in the blank spaces with trees - there's a veritable forest next to the HOC that even seems to spill backstage.

Nanook, missile travel is very fast, very accurate, very cramped, and generally one-way.

Scott Lane said...

I know a few people I'd like to see travel by missile somewhere.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, instead of going to the grocery store, I just visit my local chemistry shop. Delicious! Don't knock missile travel until you've tried it.

Alonzo P. Hawk, "Miracles From Molecules" is one of my favorites! There was a part of me that was hoping that you had discovered some rare track to the Hall of Chemistry... I wonder if there was any music playing in the background?

Chuck, the "fill it with trees" trick was done on the old souvenir maps too. As a kid I used to wonder why they didn't put rides where all those acres of trees were!

Kenneth Lane, how about Donald Trump?! ;-)

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this, as it's a Monsanto brochure that I haven't seen before. Inner Space seems to get all the attention, so it's nice to see a little love for the Hall of Chemistry!

Tom said...

Apparently the Monsanto of today shares little with the chemical/industrial giant with the same name of a few decades ago. No more plastics, no more textiles, no more petroleum... miracles from molecules has given way to "Gee I dunno from GMO"

K. Martinez said...

The pink and yellow missiles were my favorite when I was a kid. During the summer, I couldn't wait for the ice cream truck to turn down my street.

Cool brochure. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

Major, this is extraordinary. Thank you so much for posting this. Just really really great.

@Chuck, trees in architectural renderings are remarkably useful. If you have a difficult roof transition or a place where the design just "doesn't work", the approved architectural design method is to draw a tree in front of it so you don't have to explain it.

Now that everything is electronic CAD, this can be a little harder to do since all the trees of a given kind are the same size. When I drew them by hand with a technical fountain pen back in the day, there was more freedom in "branching out".


Chuck said...

JG, I'd never heard that about hiding "difficult" things in architectural drawings, but it makes perfect sense. We all know they do that in film & TV production and theme parks, but I'd never made the logical transition to 2D artwork. Thanks for the insight!

Major Pepperidge said...

Brad Abbot, this one is not as common as the larger brochure with the angle-cut top, but I have never seen the prices go very high. Glad to be able to share this one with you!

Tom, intersting, it does seem like all Monsanto is known for is GMOs… such a shame, since all the other stuff really did sound so much cooler.

K. Martinez, would you believe I have never had ice cream from an ice cream truck?!

JG, today, crowds of ravenous zombies should be used instead.

Chuck, the funny thing is (as JG points out), whatever issue is being covered up by the trees eventually really does have to be addressed! Wouldn’t it be smarter to do that first? Maybe when a project is just in “concept phase” it isn’t worth the time.

Anonymous said...

@Major & Chuck, your last comment is basically the essence of architecture practice. It isn't worth the time to do it until it's too late. LOL.

The extraordinary coordination and "thinking through" of most Disney architecture is unusual in the profession. It's partly how their construction can proceed so quickly, most of the common design problems are worked out before construction starts, instead of during the process.